10 interesting things you may not have known about Bar


How much do you know about Bar and what is your first association?

Beautiful port city, wide streets, harmonious and tidy, the most beautiful sunsets, spacious promenade, olive groves, hidden beaches,…

Queen Beach Photo: Balkan Media tim 

It's all true. But Bar is much more than that. Apart from its undeniable beauty, this city keeps true stories that sound like legends, interesting things that make it unique on the Adriatic, as well as the secret of harmonious coexistence of all three religions.

Let's take a walk around the largest coastal city in Montenegro and discover some of the interesting things that adorn it.

1. Why is the Old Town not by the sea?

This is probably what everyone who visits it for the first time is wondering. Why does Bar not have an Old Town on the coast, like other coastal towns?

There are many theories, and the closest to the truth is the one that speaks of the ideal strategic position of the city right where it was built - at the foot of Mount Rumija, protected by steep cliffs, near a source of drinking water. It was called Antibareos (Greek), Antibarum (Roman), Antivari (Italian) and Bar (Slovenian), and life took place there for 2,500 years.…

The rich history dating back to the distant past refutes the theory of Ulcinj pirates as the reason why the city was built farther from the coast. On the other hand, many believe that the sea reached the hill that leads to the Old Town today, which is supported by the fact that Bar is a very wetland area.

So, the Old Town is not on the seashore today, but maybe it used to be?

2. The mystery of the bridge under Rumia

The urban legend about the existence of a bridge under the walls of the Old Town speaks in favor of that. Iron rings, bollards and piers were allegedly found in the yards of the houses of the bar settlements. However, this theory has no foundation, experts say, who, however, do not rule out the possibility that the wetland of Bar really flooded the sea and the river Rikavac.

Do you know anything more about that?

3. It is considered the largest archaeological site in the Balkans

Most of us today are not aware of the importance of the Old Bar. It had everything that was appreciated: connection with nearby and overseas ports, but also the inner Balkans, fertile plain and protection from attacks from the sea. Because of that, many rulers fought over him.

It was part of Zeta, Byzantium, Duklja, it was ruled by Nemanjić, Balšić, Venetians, and it was part of the Ottoman Empire for 307 years. During the liberation in 1878, the Montenegrins severely damaged it. It was further destroyed by the 1979 earthquake and was never fully restored. 

Photo: uznay_balkany  

Today it is an open-air museum, and those who are aware of its importance explore it with a lot of love and caution. Many buildings have been restored, such as the Palace, the Customs House, the Barutana, the Citadel, the Aqueduct, the Church of St. John and St. Veneranda, the Clock Tower, the Episcopal Palace… but there is still a lot of work to be done.

It pleasantly surprises visitors with its beauty and size. It deserves much more attention from all of us.

4. "No Emperor to Bar"

The saying that you must have heard from Baran actually comes from Selim-beg Mustafagić, the last Ottoman ruler of this city. By this he meant that his native Bar was miles away from Constantinople itself. He congratulated Prince Nikola on the conquest of Bar with the words: "Happy city, my lord!" and remained to live in it even after that. He was buried in Corfu.  

5. The city has moved several times

And what happened to the population after the Montenegrin army damaged (Stari) Bar?

Below the hill Volujica, where the port is today, on the site of the former port, the settlement "Pristan" was formed. Even when it was renamed "Novi Bar" in 1908, its inhabitants still called it by its former name, and themselves Pristanjanima. It was considered the second capital of Montenegro and was loved in a special way.

The inhabitants never got over it in 1976, when this city was demolished and evicted due to the need to expand the "Port of Bar". After that, our Bar moved to Topolica, where it is still located today.

6. The castle of King Nikola belonged to the Karadjordjevics

Um, where did the name Topolica come from? If you thought it had to do with Topol, Karadjordjevic's birthplace, you are right.

After the liberation of the city, Prince Nikola wished to have a castle on the site of the palace of the last Turkish lord of Bar. That being said, in the most beautiful part of the city, in 1885, there was no castle that still adorns the promenade. The prince later gave it to his daughter Zorka and son-in-law Petra Karadjordjevic. The villa Topolica was named after the birthplace of Karadjordjevic, who was then far from his homeland due to the conflict with the Obrenovic dynasty. 

Photo: Sergej Zabijako  

 However, the Karadjordjevic couple did not stay here for long and, after a series of conflicts, Petar sold the castle to his father-in-law for 100,000 francs.

7. The castle park is a real small botanical garden

The castle, which resembles the one from a fairy tale, is completely matched by the park that surrounds it.

The magnificent park is adorned with Mediterranean vegetation, such as Judas and cork trees, wild mandarins but also some exotic peanut species. There is also a gift from the Italian King Emanuel - a large flower shop, a beautiful construction that has been turned into a restaurant "Prince's Garden" for decades.

8. There was a concentration camp in Bar

The dark past of Bar is linked to 1942 and the concentration camp "Campo do concentramento internato, posta millitare 137 - Antivari" which was founded by the Italians in the area of the city center, on a meadow near today's port. Over 10,000 people, Yugoslav patriots, passed through it.

Residents of Pristan and Bar secretly distributed food, clothes and shoes to the detainees, and they were also transmitters of news and various information. The camp was disbanded in October 1943, with the arrival of the Germans, and several hundred prisoners were interned in camps in Germany

Today, only the stone trough in the Pioneer Park, as this place was named after afforestation, reminds us of the camp.

9. It is the only Montenegrin city that has two shores - sea and lake

Apart from 46 km of sea, Bar also boasts 65 km of lake shore. You all know about beaches like Sutomorska, Veliki pjesak, Utjeha or Čanja, but Barani loves small, hidden beaches like Hladna uvala, Kadica, Crvena or Kraljičina beaches. And when they get tired of salt water, there is the largest lake in the Balkans - Skadar. 

Murići beach, foto: Discover Montenegro  

This is just one of the interesting stories from Bar. Although it sounds incredible, the story is completely true. The relic of inestimable value, the cross of St. John Vladimir, has been kept by the Andrović family from the Bar village of Mikulići for more than nine centuries. At least 19 generations of this family have kept the cross since it came into their hands, shortly after the tragic death of Prince Vladimir.

Many tried to appropriate it, but they did not succeed (not even to King Nikola). For Andrović, the cross was and remains above all, they defended it with their lives.

Once a year, on Trinity Day, the cross sees the light of day, when members of all three faiths take it to Rumi. It has become a symbol of faith, love and hope, and it is also registered as an intangible cultural asset of the municipality of Bar.

11. Miraculous "Rumia Grass"

It is impossible to list only 10 interesting things when it comes to the Bar. Especially if you look at the wreath of Rumija: Lisinj, Sutorman and Vrsut. Just a few kilometers from the sea shore, a walk in the mountain air that smells of medicinal herbs awaits you.


Sutorman, photo: Dinarsko gorje  

 Here you will find the endemic Onosma visianii Clem or, simply Grass from Rumia whose root is extremely medicinal. People used it to treat and heal wounds, jaundice, but also to treat domestic animals. About 20 alkaloids were found in the root, which dissolve in olive oil, turning it dark red.

The phoenix flower is also interesting, which, due to the drought, completely withered, only to come to life and bloom with the first rain. Because of this rare ability, Ramonda Natalija, as she is also called, is a legally protected flowering plant.

Here we fall into the trap to tell you the story of the villas that lived on Sutorman, a mountain that Barani especially loves. But we will leave that for another time. As well as the story of the Old Olive Tree, the oldest tree in Europe. There is no emperor to Bar! ?

Cover photo: Balkan Media team

Source: Share Montenegro

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Tuesday, 16 July 2024

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